Sunday, July 31, 2011

Serato Itch 2.0 is Out!

Serato Itch Users! It's here!!

Itch 2.0 looks great! Can't wait to try it out with the Novation Twitch as soon as I get my hands on one!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

UDG Traktor Bag - Review Soon!

Look! Something just arrived in the mailbox all the way from Germany!

It's the UDG Traktor Bag! 
I recently bought the MONO EFX Producer bag, it is a damn good, extremely well built bag, but it is a bit too big and bulky for me to take to uni everyday, so I decided to get another bag which is smaller and more lightweight for everyday uses

Review and comparison to the mono EFX PRoducer bag soon!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Prototype" - my school WOBBLE project

So i was asked to do an electronic music production for my EMP module in SAE Institute

this is what i did, this is just the shorter version as I didnt really like the intro part

Done on Ableton Live 8 + Sylenth1 + Massive + Alchemy + REFX nexus

First track I ever made - Ever! :)

Will definitely rework it as soon as i got the time!


 The Prototype V3 (Short Version) by Ivan Zilch

Cant See the SoudCloud player above? Click HERE for the link

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Korg Monotribe!

Anyone else want one of these? Coz I do!! 
Looks like a fun piece of kit!

Friday, July 15, 2011

MONO EFX The Producer Bag Quick Review

Today I purchased this cool MONO EFX: The Producer bag
Mono is a San-Fransisco Based company that has been making Guitar, Bass and Cymbal bags/cases for quite sometime, quite recently they launched their EFX line of Gear Backpacks / Slingbags (For the whole range you can view them HERE)

I went to their local distributor in Singapore, CityMusic to check out the whole range and I decided on the Producer bag because I wanted a bag that can carry a lot of stuff (macbook pro, charger, cables, soundcard, headphones etc plus school textbooks)

First initial Impressions were : HOLY SHIT THIS BAG IS HUGE! - Yes they are much bigger in reality than in pictures! It is also very WIDE, making it stand out as perhaps one of the widest sling bag I have ever owned (and seen!)

It also has a very distinct look - unmistakably MONO! The bag looks so awesomely tough and bad-ass feel to it, by look, by feel , and by design. The whole exterior of the bag screams toughness , which also means it is pretty heavy even without anything inside it

Bag Dimensions

My 13 Inch Macbook Pro + Soft Sleeve Inside
Although they claimed that it can hold a 17 inch Macbook Pro nicely, in reality my 13 inch Macbook pro (with soft neoprene sleeve) fits in very snugly, I can see the 15 inch fitting well (without a softcase perhaps) but a 17 inch might be kinda too tight in the laptop compartment - So keep that in mind if you have a 17 inch MBP! There's really not much space!

On the other hand the laptop compartment is very very nicely padded and It will keep your precious Macbook secure, plus you easily can fit in a smaller controller like the VCI-100 or a Novation Twitch in the main compartment (MAYBE - according to the measurements the Twitch should fit in but I have not tested it yet!!),

I also saw a video of the VCI-300 fitting in so it should be fine as well! There are dividers included in case you want to fit Serato Boxes, Soundcards etc safely (The Compartments are Padded)

Underneath the outer shell
Front View

Inside the outer shell we have two pockets (one would be perfect for a macbook charger and the other would be good for a small-ish headphones, my Sennheiser HD25 fits just right in when squeezed in) which is nicely padded, waterproof, and has nice solid zippers.

On the sides we also have another two separate pockets for Cables, Cigarettes, or whatever you want to put in them, although accessing them could be a bit hard while you are wearing the bag on your shoulder!, in order to access them you would have to put the bag down and then you can access the side pockets - due to the shoulder straps getting in the way otherwise, it is rather annoying if you constantly open and close the side compartments

The Weakest Link??

One thing that bothered me (and made me think whether to decide on buying this bag or not) was the "Plastic" shoulder strap connections that connects the strap to the bag itself. No other reviews seemed to mention this?

Upon closer inspection I can see the label "UTX - DURAFLEX" on the hooks, after some research I did found out that these strap hooks are indeed the same ones being used in several military grade shoulder bags - which assured me to make the leap of faith and bought the bag as the "material  was in fact "high-impact, reinforced nylon" with proven record of durability over your average cheap plastic, I even saw some military bags used to carry weapons and artillery with these exact same UTX-Duraflex strap hooks!

I have had a bad experience with shoulder bags failing on me while my laptop is still inside, so I am really really OCD about straps and their construction...

I even emailed the guys at MONO, who further assured me that they have chosen the best material possible for the strap hooks and they are very confident about the rugged quality of their bags. Mono offers 3 years warranty on their products (1 year for Singapore - that sucks) - I will monitor this and see how long the Mono EFX producer bag lasts with normal usage so we shall see!

Overall I am quite pleased with the quality of the Mono EFX Producer bag, although I must advise you to try them on first and walk around the store to test them out, If you are not used to very large, wide, slingbags, they can feel really funny to walk around on due to their size and they way they hang off you

Construction Wise, yes they are bullet-proof (and water-proof!). Except for the shoulder strap - we will have to wait and see how long they last, It could be that I'm a little bit too paranoid (due to the small size of the strap hooks) but since these hooks are also used in many other heavy duty military purpose bags then I suppose they should also be very very durable

The Mono Producer bag is called "the producer bag" for one more reason - It DOES NOT hold vinyl records! You can probably try to stuff it in, but no It doesn't really fit right in there, all the other Mono EFX bags can easily fit vinyl records inside, but not the producer bag

The Mono EFX 365 Backpack is bigger, can contain more stuff, and seems to distribute the weight more evenly than the producer bag, but Im not so into backpacks which is why I chose the producer bag instead, but if you are more into backpacks and dont mind looking like you are about to fly on a jetpack then you can check out the EFX 365 backpack instead

The Mono EFX Kondensor Bag is another backpack, a lot bit smaller in size and profile but still packs quite a lot - although again I was leaning towards shoulder bags which was why I didn't choose this bag

Traktor S4 Owners : NO this bag does not fit the Traktor S4 :(

If you walk around often with the bag fully loaded I  personally recommend the Mono backpacks instead of their sling bags - Backpacks distribute the weights more evenly and don't strain your shoulders as much as these, but if you are simply carrying your gear between your house and into the clubs and back, the Mono Producer bag is almost PERFECT - It  is huge, nicely constructed, and can fit a lot of your beloved audio gear safely


  • Exterior is well padded, tough-as-nails and waterproof - The contents of your bag are really safe!
  • A lot of separate compartments for all your goodies
  • Looks really GOOD
  • The shoulder strap feels like it can break anytime soon - I might be just paranoid on this but if you see the pictures above you will get what I mean
  • When the bag is fully loaded, the shoulder straps aren't very comfortable for long travels
  • Side compartments get a bit hard to access when you are wearing the bag

For more info on Mono Cases you can check out their website HERE

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pioneer DJM-T1

Cool Video?

What's not cool is THE PRICE - USD$1600 (That's nearly SGD$2000!!) for a 2-Channel mixer???

The All-In-One integration is really cool, the built-in controls mean you can even almost use it by itself without any extra soundcard or midi controller (it has deck controls for both decks, and has a built in soundcard) which is pretty cool, but for about the same price you can get:
s Rane TTM-56s (which have KILLA Xfaders)
a Traktor Scratch Duo 2 Box Set,
a Native Instruments Kontrol X1
The combo of all these three essentially do whatever the DJM-T1 Does, but has more versatility!

Plus if you paid that much for the DJM-T1 the least they could do is give you a FULL Traktor Scratch Pro 2 software instead of the limited DUO version no?

Just my Two Cents! :)

Oh by the way there's a really cool review of the DJM-T1 at DJTT HERE, really keen on the Skratchworx review on this mixer!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Propellerheads Reason 6!!!

Reason 6!!!

Oh LAWWWDDDDDDD! They finally integrated "Reason" and "Record" into one = Reason 6!

This means all previous limitations of Reason are obselete!! Previously inside Reason you are purely working with Midi and Samples, and we are unable to drag in wave files or loops unless they go through propellerheads' "Recycle" first , they sort of fixed that with "Record", a separate program that has Reason contained (if you also own Reason)

Now in Reason 6 everything is consolidated into one package!! HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

I happen to be a big time fan of Reason, I really like the workflow and how self-contained it is, theres's just so much to do and so many possibilities!

Want... One... Now!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Portable iPhone DJing : The Next Level!

iPhone users!

Remember the 99 cents DJay app for the  iPhone Sale back then? If you used the chance to purchase the pretty cool app, this is what the next software update offers:

The Numark iDJ Live controller  hooks up straight to your iPhone running the Djay software and integrates!

Yes it's not going to go head-to-head against the Traktor S4 or the Numark NS6 but you gotta admit its pretty cool for jamming on the road!

For $99! No laptops required - just your iPhone or your iPad!

Check out the platter response / latency for skratching!! 

Macbook Pro Bottom Case Makes Creaking Noise? My Solution!

I recently upgraded my 2010 13 inch macbook pro's hard drive from the stock 250GB Hitachi drive to a Western Digital Scorpio Blue 750GB

Everything works PERFECT, battery lasts just as long (if not more!) and the Macbook Pro does not heat up like some 7200 RPM drives

Anyways, one thing i noticed that the bottom part of my Macbook Pro makes a clicking / creaking noise when pressed down, on the area of the right side of the bottom case (where the hard drive is located, as illustrated below)

The marker shows the affected area with cliking/creaking

After some google search, I have found out that the problem is actually quite common among Macbook Pros, as shown by this thread / discussion HERE on MacRumors forum

At first I didnt mind at all, but sometimes when carrying the macbook pro and holding that particular side , I would always hear this creaking / clicking noise and it was driving me mad!!

After many many trial and error I might have found a solution!

Apple never really wrote this on their manual, but they did show you the diagram of the bottom case and which screws belong to where, but they never say that the order of the screws are equally important!

Bottom Case of unibody Macbook Pro, 13 inch version shown
If this clicking / creaking noise ever happened to you and you wonder what I did to resolve it , this is what I did:

#1 - Put the long screws in FIRST before the short ones!!

#2 - Dont force the screws in! 
If they are in the right groove it wouldn't take much effort to seal them in! And don't overtighten them! If you think it isn't going in correctly or it needs a lot of effort to slot it in, take it out and start again, with minimal force!

When I first opened my Macbook Pro and Installed the new hard drive, I started from the top left and went clockwise until I went thru all the screws and the bottom case firmly sealed, but even though it seemed firm, It was creaking on that particular side illustrated on the first image above

It wasnt until I re-opened my macbook pro, put it on top of a soft surface (your macbook pro neoprene sleeve or any soft sleeve will do if you have one) , press down firmly and put in the long screws first, and then still holding down firmly, screw in the shorter ones afterwards - After i did this my MBP's bottom case is as good as when I first got it - SOLID as  a tank and no noise whatsoever!

I have also read about people sealing the bottom case in a "star pattern" if that makes sense whatsoever, but I tried this method and it worked for me, so If you come across the same problem with me you can try my method and see if it works! Well it worked for me! After many times of re-opening and re-closing the bottom case (which might not be good for the mac!)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Traktor Pioneer DDJ-T1 Edition 2 Update

Pioneer has released a free upgrade for the DDJ-T1 owners into version 2 of Traktor!

This is essentially a feature-limited 4 deck version of Traktor Duo 2, with 6 effects (instead of almost 30 in the PRO 2) and some more limitations - but hey its free!

When they announced the DDJ-T1 back then I was seriously contemplating between selling my S4 and getting the T1 or just keeping the S4 altogether, after some serious consideration I decided to stay with the S4 due to the Timecode feature and also much more hardware/software integration in the S4, although If you havent already got the S4 the DDJ-T1 might be a good option!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Traktor kontrol S4 Updated Review - 7 months later

This is a follow up to my Native Instruments Kontrol S4 Mini Review I did quite sometime ago (7 months ago in fact!), I have since then spent quite a lot of time with it, and got to know a lot more about it inside out to be able to honestly say what I like about it and what I dont like about it - 100% honest, unbiased straight up!

With the new FREE Scratch Upgrade offer during July 2011, a lot of people who don't already own one will seriously think about getting one, if you are reading this you would probably one of those people :)

Would you like to hear about the pros and cons from an S4 who used it for about 7 months extensively? Well im about to share my opinion right now!

So did anything change from the initial review? Let's see!

What's Been Good So Far?
The Jogwheels
They are small but they are accurate, they are pressure sensitive rather than touch sensitive.
In the beginning I truly hated the jogwheel sensitivity for manual pitch bending / manual beatmatching, over the time i have gone used to it, and I must say they are really nice!

The Hardware/Software Integration
This is where the S4 truly shines, almost everything you need is mapped to the controller, making it almost unnecessary for you to touch your laptop during sets! This is why if the same company makes the software AND the hardware the result is sometimes better!  Oh and the hybrid timecode mode is great as well - a lot of great features in one package!

The Sample Decks /Loop Recorder - AWESOMENESS!
The sample decks are really really really GREAT! If you have a properly beatgridded track, when you have a nice section of your song looped in Deck A or deck B, hit one of the empty sample deck player slots to COPY that loop into the sample deck!! Yep its that easy! And everything will be beatgridded according to the original track, which means if the original track is gridded properly the recorded loop also will be a PERFECT loop which will never go out of time - Now you can build up your custom loop collection at home and play em out in gigs!

Another cool thing - the loop recorder. Example of usage, use the beatslicer effect on a properly gridded track, like what you hear? Turn on the loop recorded and start recording - everything will be recorded and on time, in sync, ready to be played again with the sample decks. Cool no?

As mentioned before, all these require properly beatgridded tracks. Sometimes we just miss the simplicity of Serato with the overlapping waveforms but in Traktor we can do so much more, at the expense of extra preparation time for beatgrids, setting hot cues etc

The whole unit lights up nicely
All the important buttons light up in the dark, making it really easy to use in PITCH-BLACK darkness. This is really a plus point!

The Layered Pitch Slider Concept (Relative Mode)
In my initial review I expressed that I did not like the shorter pitch slider without the centre click at 0% (For manual beatmatching). Coming from Vinyl and CDJ I was really used to the normal length pitch sliders with a click at the centre to tell me that it's 0%.

Over the time as I got to know the software I became familiar with the Relative/Absolute concept of the pitch sliders, which has made me understand why they have chosen such a shorter pitch slider without a centre click:

In Absolute Mode the Software reads whatever position the physical slider is in, meaning if you jump between layers (Deck A/C or B/D) you will most probably experience a sudden jump or decrease in pitch when you move the sliders due to their position not being in sync on each layer. I would recommend not use this setting (You can change the setting in the preferences menu under the S4 tab)

The option that I recommend is the Relative Mode, in this mode, the adjustments you make on each layer will be kept when going between layers, but any movement will be registered as well.
Sounds confusing?
Imagine this: Deck A is running at 0%, you increase the pitch by 2% so the pitch is now 2% (and physically also at 2%). You change the layer to deck C, the song (software) is at 0%, you increase the pitch by another 2% so now deck C is also at 2%, the physical slider is on 4% because you increased it by 2% twice.
The point here is they make the adjustment based on where the pitch slider was and where it was being moved next, so since it starts at 2% on Layer C and ends at 4% the only increase is by 2%

Did that make any sense whatsoever? I hope so! But what If you are at the maximum physical position of the pitch slider and you want to increase the pitch even more? This is the cool part, you hold SHIFT and then move the pitch slider to the centre a bit, and then release the shift. When you hold shift any movement to the pitch slider will be ignored, so now you can further increase the pitch since the fader has been moved to the centre but the software pitch remains intact as before you held shift and moved the fader. Still confused? Well you should try it out - its a lot easier hahaha, point is this is really really great for manual beatmatching once you get used to it, moving between deck layers suddenly becomes such a breeze!
So yeah the S4 is awesome for manual beatmaching! You dont really need to auto-sync!

The Improved Waveform and Beatgrid
The 2.0 waveforms are really great! It makes putting beatgrids to Traktor much more easier! Plus the TAP function in traktor has been improved so much that almost 99% of the time it would get an accurate reading of the BPM if you TAP along to the music! A quick adjustment in the Grid position would usually do the job and then your track is lock & loaded!

The Things I (still?) Dont Really Like

The Stiff Hot Cue Buttons
Yes up until now they are still very very stiff and not so responsive! if you think about it, this is the same company who created the ultra-responsive MASCHINE drum pads, too bad they cant do the same for the S4 hot cue buttons! Im not sure if this is an isolated thing (just my unit) or if they are all like this?
The hotcue buttons are fine for triggering hotcues but not for rapid-fire, machine gun hot cue juggles, perhaps i need to smash it even more so it loosens up?

No After-Fader Effects
Remember when you put the echo effect on an analog mixer and smashing the upfaders up to create that cool echo stab effect? Cant do it here, nupe, no way. The way the process effects if Pre-Fader, which means if you manipulate the upfaders it cuts the FX as well. Could be improved?

One of The Phono/Line Input Gets Loose Overtime
Okay this truly sucks! I did not even plug and unplug into the input channels for the channel C at the back, yet one of the RCA input jacks get a bit loose - Poor Build Quality?? This is purely cosmetic so far (it does not affect the sound - yet) but the fact that one of the input connectors get loose (wiggle a bit) while the others stay still is not a good sign, hopefully this is an isolated incident and not for all S4 units!
If you are buying yours second hand CHECK THE INPUT PLUGS AT THE BACK to make sure they are fine!

The shiny surface in the middle
Prone to scratches, finger prints etc, it might look nice and shiny when new, but just a few days of playing with the S4 it wont be shiny anymore - it will be covered in fingerprints , smudges and sometimes scratches! Why they did not choose a matte surface is really puzzling

The XFader is not user-replaceable
For all scratch addicts, the xfader is not really user replaceable easily, you can wait until the Innofader comes out but then again it wont be a plug-and-play proccess to replace the faders, plus it would probably void your warranty!

Traktor 2 is still in early stages
Now on version 2.0.3, they have ironed out a lot of the performance bugs, but still I cant help but to feel that the software is still in a relatively young state. It would normally take a lot of time before a software reaches a very stable state. Im not saying that Traktor Pro 2.0.3 is not stable, I have yet to have glitches or pops or crackles, but I do get the random occasional waveform freezes when I load songs, something that doesnt really affect the sound but affects us mentally as when visually we see something freezes we get the impression that audio freezes will follow - fortunately it didnt so this is really just a minor gripe

That's Just about all I can add, the Traktor S4 has the free Scratch Upgrade offer as of July 2011, all you need to do is purchase one from anywhere (provided its brand new) and activate the S4 during July 2011. You will get a free voucher email from Native Instruments to claim your FREE scratch upgrade!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Bunch of Awesome Stuff I Just Bought!

Cubase 6!!!

Cubase 6 is seriusly a contender for the best DAW software. It does not come with as many instruments and sounds as apple's own Logic Studio 9, but I really really like the workflow (and the interface!) of Cubase 6!

Im still learning and getting  used to Cubase 6 but I have been following tutorials (Finished all 4 Levels of AskVideo Cubase tutorials! Great tutorials by the way, highly recommended)  and I even read thru the whole 700 page+ manual (Yes I did!!) Just so that I would know it inside out! Power User incoming!!

As an Audio Engineering student I am able to use the educational pricing on Cubase 6, those of you who are wondering where to buy Cubase 6 Educational in Singapore you can check out:

Yamaha SG - $499 SGD (WTF???)
Resolution SG - $420 SGD (This is the standard rate)
Valentine Music Centre $410 + Free Delivery (Where I got it from! Great prices and great service!)

Yes everything is more expensive in Singapore! In USA, sells Cubase 6 Edu for just $299USD!

Try Cubase 6 For Free (Trial)

By the way for those who are interested to try out Cubase 6, Steinberg is offering a free 30-day trial! Check out the details HERE

Yamaha HS50M Monitor Speakers

Finally Bought These!!! These monitors have a little bit of history behind it, google up Yamaha NS10 / NS10-M if you havent heard of them! I've been drooling to get this piece of history for a long long time but never been able to (Too many Gear I want to buy and money doesn't grow on Trees!!!)

There was this saying that "If you can make it sound good on these speakers, it will sound good anywhere", this is due to the Yamaha Hs-50m's flat and accurate sound, i find them to be really really flat and they are really good mixing speakers, perhaps one of the best in its price range, although for listening pleasure they kinda lack bass so those Dubstep wobbleZ wont do as much impact as, lets say the KRK RP5 Rokits which are very bassy and muddy (from my own personal experience with trying them out)

This goes out to replace my old battered M-Audio AV40 speakers which now will serve as the speakers for my Traktor S4 haha!